All posts filed under: Travel

view from Monte Grignone

A world unfolding

Last week, after tunneling under the squat heft of Monte Bianco, and with the cloud-tangled peaks of its French facade in our wake, I watched two alpine cows tumble together in a meadow by the side of the road. The white of their bellies blurred with the brown of their backs, and it seemed that they were locked in a play fight. How amazing, I thought. But as we drew closer to the dancing cows, the image corrected itself: it was just a small windmill turning furiously in the strengthening wind. We were going home. To the home beyond the hills and mountains; far from the Alps, and the Pre-Alps, and the green, terraced footholds that wrap around Bergamo like a frilly collar. To the rushes, reeds and washes of East Anglia and the flat swathes of the Cheshire plains. Driving across France – wheels on earth, dogs in the boot, rain belting the windscreen – was a physical process of connecting the two: our Italian home and British one. A week ago, this journey Read More

snow in the giardini venice

How to spend a snowy morning in Venice

I have found the best place to enjoy the snow in Venice, quite by accident. You must go to the Giardini at 10am. The path through the park will be fairly untroubled by footprints and the snowflakes falling from the trees will dance under the sun (or perhaps it will still be snowing – that’s even better). If you pass the fresh fish stall on Via Garibaldi and enter the park from there, you will soon come to a place selling flowers on trestle tables – it will look like a workshop, and you might expect to see a bare allotment nearby. But then you’ll see the glint of a greenhouse from behind a hedge – or perhaps it’s better described as an orangery. Anyway, a sign will tell you that it is the Serra dei Giardini. You will notice the potted lemon trees outside, the puckered fruit frosted with ice. And then, if you’re really lucky, you will hear music as you walk towards the entrance. If you are more cultured than I am, you’d Read More

Venice in the fog

I thought that Venice in winter would be foggier. Or rather, I’d hoped it would. When I visited the city a handful of winters ago, the fog that rose from the Lagoon in the mornings seemed as habitual as the late night high tide in Piazza San Marco. I remember watching Venetians move unflinchingly through the mist and the damp to buy their fish, or to trudge towards work, stopping in a bar for a coffee on the way. Venice, it seemed to me, was a city of water and marble and fog. So when I came here in November, I waited for the foggy mornings, except they never came – or at least never caught them. We had Acqua Alta (only the once – both a blessing and curse in a way), we had belting sunshine, mild damp, the odd storm, and of course bitter cold. Yet no proper fog. Then a couple of weeks ago, I woke up to a bedroom lit by only the finest veil of dawn. Behind the thin curtains, Read More